Staff

Names are listed alphabetically by last name.
Sonya Bellafant
Director of Tennessee Senior Law Alliance
EMAIL

Sonya Bellafant is the Director of the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance (TSLA) under the umbrella of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in Nashville, TN. She is originally from Detroit, Michigan and she is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law; she also earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism through Oakland University. She is licensed to practice law in Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois. While a law student, Sonya was the Assistant Director for the Michigan Pension Rights Project. There she assisted seniors and Michigan residents by investigating and securing pension benefits. After clerking for the United States Attorney’s Office, Sonya focused on enforcing, advancing and defending the legal rights of low income and vulnerable families. She has worked with several legal programs in Michigan including the Legal Aid of Western Michigan, Legal Aid & Defender, Legal Services of the Eastern Michigan and U.AW. Legal Services. Before relocating to Tennessee in 2015, she advocated on behalf of seniors in Wayne County, Michigan, to address a host of legal issues as the Supervising Attorney for the Free Legal Aid Clinic located at Wayne State University. Prior to her current position, Sonya was a staff attorney in the Columbia office of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

The Tennessee Senior Law Alliance (TSLA) is a statewide network of attorneys and other legal professionals who work together to meet the legal needs of Tennessee's most vulnerable senior citizens, creating lasting local impact across all 95 Tennessee counties. TSLA is comprised of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS), Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS), the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LASMTC), and Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET). Services include legal representation (provided by staff and volunteer attorneys), walk-in legal advice clinics, publishing educational materials outlining a senior's rights and responsibilities under the law, and presenting educational workshops and seminars at various organizations, including senior centers and faith-based groups.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Sonya worked as an advertising executive for Bozell Worldwide and Campbell Ewald developing media plans to increase sales for clients such as Chrysler, Plymouth Jeep Eagle and General Motors.

In her spare time she enjoys traveling with her fiancé, quilting, crocheting, playing with her four dogs and watching Big Ten Track and Field events.

Anna Catlin
Director of Finance
(615) 780-7126
EMAIL

Anna Catlin joined the Legal Aid Society as an Accountant in June, 1996. She received her Bachelors degree in Accounting from Tennessee State University. Her interests include reading and spending time with family.

Derria Ford
Deputy Director of Community Engagement
(615) 780-7134
EMAIL

Derria L. Ford holds a Doctorate in Leadership and Professional Practice with a dissertation emphasis in transformational leadership, leader efficacy, and emotional intelligence. She is also a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where she earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Industrial Organizational Psychology and Business Communications. Over the past ten years, she has administrated a variety of grants which include federal, state, local, foundation, and private grants. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2013 as the Grants Administrator and assumed the role of Deputy Director of Community Engagement in July 2018.

Valerie Hansen
Director of Human Resources
(865) 483-8454, x457
EMAIL

Valerie Hansen grew up in Pennsylvania and has a B.S. degree in Accounting from Susquehanna University. She has worked at the non-profit Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (formerly Rural Legal Services of Tennessee) in Oak Ridge, since 1992. During her time at LAS, her job has evolved to include responsibilities as accountant, IT coordinator, grants administrator, and human resources administrator. She served on the CONTACT Care Line Board of Directors from 2005 to 2012 and again from 2014 to present, serving as President in 2015 and 2016, and acting as Treasurer in those same years. She has served on the CONTACT Advisory Board. She served as board member and Treasurer for Community Mediation Services from 2005-2009 and has been co-coordinator of the Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit CMS for a number of years.

Brittney Jerkins
Director of Development
(615) 780-7132
EMAIL

Brittney Jerkins was named Director of Development for Legal Aid Society in May,2017. She previously served as an administrative assistant with the Volunteer Lawyers Program at Legal Aid Society since 2015. She graduated from Lipscomb University Graduate School in 2014 with an MBA degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. She completed her undergraduate degree from Lipscomb University in 2012 with a degree in business and food systems management. She has experience working with several local and international nonprofits and has a passion for helping others. Before joining Legal Aid Society, She worked for Mercy Community Healthcare as Marketing and Event Coordinator.

David Kozlowski
Director of Advocacy
(931) 381-5533, x258
EMAIL

David Kozlowski is a 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He was a clinical instructor at the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic from 1975 to 1980, at which time he joined the Legal Aid Society. In 2001 he worked with the Tennessee Justice Center on several class action cases. In 2002 he became the Assistant General Counsel to the Legal Aid Society and is now the Director of Advocacy for the firm. He has been lead counsel on many significant state and federal court decisions in Tennessee involving prisoner and juvenile rights and is one of the leading appellate court advocates in Tennessee. He is the author of leading reference works on Tennessee unemployment security law and chapters on appeals from juvenile and general sessions courts in Tennessee Appellate Practice and Tennessee Law of Children. He is a frequent presenter at local, state and national training events. David received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award as the Public Service Attorney of the Year in 1998. In 2014 the Tennessee Supreme Court reappointed him to a third three year term on its Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, that term expiring on December 31, 2017. He was a hearing officer for the Board of Professional Responsibility from 2002 through 2008 and was reappointed to another three year term by the Supreme Court in 2016. He and his colleague Rae Anne Smith, an attorney in the Tullahoma office, were asked by the Supreme Court in 2013 to co-chair a sub-committee of the Court Improvement Committee that was tasked with considering revisions to Tennessee’s Rules of Juvenile Procedure – a project that resulted in the adoption in 2016 of the completely rewritten Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure in 2016.

Adonis Patton
Grant Manager
(615) 780-7108
EMAIL

Adonis joined Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands in October 2018. She was previously Associate Director of Program with Center of Hope serving clients victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. In addition to ensuring clients received the best possible services available to them, she was responsible for volunteer management, grant development, staff management as well as team development. After a successful career in the for-profit sector, she transitioned into the nonprofit sector and has served communities in this capacity for 15 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. She is credentialed by the National Organization for Victim Advocacy as a comprehensive specialist within the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and program management.

Patricia Rulon
Director of Compliance & Reporting
(615) 780-7124
EMAIL

Patricia Rulon has been with Legal Aid since 1988. She is a member of Middle Tennessee Association of Legal Administrators, joining in 2014. She received certification in Secretarial Studies at the former Katharine Gibbs School and majored in Music Education at Nazareth College of Rochester in New York.

Lucinda Smith
Volunteer Lawyers Program Director
(615) 780-7127
EMAIL

Lucinda Smith is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and a 1976 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. After clerking for the Davidson County Chancery Court and practicing with the State of Tennessee and in private practice, she served as Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Family Law Section from 1987 to 1990. From 1991 to 2003 she was with the firm of Dodson, Parker Dinkins & Behm. She was Nashville’s Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year in 1995. She returned to the Legal Aid Society to direct The Nashville Pro Bono Program, a joint venture of the Legal Aid Society and Nashville Bar Association. She has taught family law as an adjunct professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School. She is former Chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission and is active in the Nashville Bar Association, having served as First Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee and the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.

Paul Swiney
Deputy Director of Operations
(615) 780-7112
EMAIL

Paul Swiney joined Legal Aid Society as the Director of Technology in late 2015 and assumed the role of Deputy Director of Operations in July 2018. He is a native Tennessean and 1984 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He began his professional experience in Washington, DC working for a political consultant where his aptitude and interest in IT helped lay the foundation for a career in this field. Upon relocation to Nashville, he spent 25 years at the public accounting firm KPMG where he focused on IT support and worked for their Office of General Counsel managing eDiscovery projects related to investigations. Throughout his career, Paul has worked with numerous nonprofits as a consultant, volunteer and board member. These experiences prepared him for his current role at Legal Aid Society, where he is responsible for oversight and management of operations, technology, finance and human resources. Paul enjoys hiking and traveling with his wife, Tambi and, in 2014, completed the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain with his son, Chaney.

DarKenya W. Waller
Executive Director
(615) 780-7118
EMAIL

DarKenya W. Waller joined the Legal Aid Society in 2008. She became the Managing Attorney of its Nashville office in 2010 and the Executive Director in 2018. Her legal practice is focused primarily on family law. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi - School of Law and earned a Master of Business Administration from Belhaven University. Mrs. Waller is a 2011 member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She was appointed to the Indigent Representation Taskforce by the Tennessee Supreme Court and is a fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Nashville Bar Association, the YWCA of Nashville, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) where she is Board Chair. She has been recognized as a 2016 Woman of Influence and 2018 Best of the Bar by the Nashville Business Journal, as a 2016 Cable Athena Award Nominee and as the 2015 Advocate of the Year by the NCADV. Mrs. Waller has held leadership positions with the Lawyers Association for Women – Marion Griffith Chapter and the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has served on the Tennessee State Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and as Chair of the Family Law Task Force of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. She is a frequent speaker across the state on the topic of Domestic Violence training judges, clerks, commissioners and the public on the impact of domestic violence. She is most proud of her work initiating the Civil-Legal Advocate Program which provides free legal representation to victims of Domestic Violence on the Order of Protection dockets in Davidson County, TN.

Paige Barbeauld
Clarksville Attorney

Paige Hamby Barbeauld joined Legal Aid Society’s Clarksville office in February, 2016 after having volunteered there for over a year. Prior to this, she served as in-house counsel for Environmental Research Center in Fort Oglethorpe, GA. During law school where she was an Ellen Ewing Fellow as well as an Academic Fellow, she did work with the Oldfather Law Firm, Brandeis Law Clinic, Jefferson County Attorney’s Office and Legal Aid Society, all in Louisville. Barbeauld earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and her undergraduate degree in History and Political Science from the University of Tennessee.

Sonya Bellafant
Director of Tennessee Senior Law Alliance
EMAIL

Sonya Bellafant is the Director of the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance (TSLA) under the umbrella of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in Nashville, TN. She is originally from Detroit, Michigan and she is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law; she also earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism through Oakland University. She is licensed to practice law in Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois. While a law student, Sonya was the Assistant Director for the Michigan Pension Rights Project. There she assisted seniors and Michigan residents by investigating and securing pension benefits. After clerking for the United States Attorney’s Office, Sonya focused on enforcing, advancing and defending the legal rights of low income and vulnerable families. She has worked with several legal programs in Michigan including the Legal Aid of Western Michigan, Legal Aid & Defender, Legal Services of the Eastern Michigan and U.AW. Legal Services. Before relocating to Tennessee in 2015, she advocated on behalf of seniors in Wayne County, Michigan, to address a host of legal issues as the Supervising Attorney for the Free Legal Aid Clinic located at Wayne State University. Prior to her current position, Sonya was a staff attorney in the Columbia office of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

The Tennessee Senior Law Alliance (TSLA) is a statewide network of attorneys and other legal professionals who work together to meet the legal needs of Tennessee's most vulnerable senior citizens, creating lasting local impact across all 95 Tennessee counties. TSLA is comprised of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS), Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS), the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LASMTC), and Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET). Services include legal representation (provided by staff and volunteer attorneys), walk-in legal advice clinics, publishing educational materials outlining a senior's rights and responsibilities under the law, and presenting educational workshops and seminars at various organizations, including senior centers and faith-based groups.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Sonya worked as an advertising executive for Bozell Worldwide and Campbell Ewald developing media plans to increase sales for clients such as Chrysler, Plymouth Jeep Eagle and General Motors.

In her spare time she enjoys traveling with her fiancé, quilting, crocheting, playing with her four dogs and watching Big Ten Track and Field events.

Linda Blackwelder
Attorney, Tullahoma

Linda Blackwelder joined the Tullahoma office in November 2017 as a Staff Attorney.

William Bush
Cookeville Attorney, Employment Practice Lead

William Bush is a graduate of Princeton University and Case Western Reserve University Law School, where he was an editor of the Law and Housing Journal and of the Law Review. He was a national board member of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council and a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow with Southeast Tennessee Legal Services. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1982. He is a 2008 recipient of the B. Riney Green Award for promoting inter-program cooperation and otherwise strengthening the provision of legal aid in Tennessee. He successfully litigated one of the nation’s first private enforcement actions under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, Putnam County Bar Association, National Employment Lawyer’s Association, and Tennessee Employment Lawyer’s Association. He is the Liaison to the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service for the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section. He is an Editor in Chief of The Family and Medical Leave Act, a treatise jointly published by the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and Bloomberg BNA. He is a frequent presenter on employment law topics. He is past president of the Upper Cumberland Trial Lawyers Association and was a founder and co-chair of the board of Dismas House of the Upper Cumberlands in Cookeville. He enjoys tennis and a variety of outdoor activities.

Jillian Cohen
Columbia Attorney

Jillian Cohen joined the Columbia office of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in September 2018 to work in the areas of health & benefits and family law. Cohen is a 2018 graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. During her time in school, she received several recognitions, including the Scholastic Excellence Award and the Outstanding Student Attorney Award. Cohen worked in various legal positions throughout her schooling, including Disability Law Colorado, the Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and in-house counsel for a corporation. She also worked for one year in her school’s Community Economic Development Clinic where she represented a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a public benefit corporation, and a LLC with a variety of transactional matters. Cohen is fluent in Spanish and spent nearly two years teaching English to elementary-aged students in Madrid, Spain. Cohen holds a law license from Colorado.

Andrae Crismon
Murfreesboro Managing Attorney

Andrae P. Crismon is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 2003 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was Associate Editor of the Journal of Transnational Law. Crismon joined the Gallatin office of Legal Aid Society in 2007, and thereafter was promoted to Managing Attorney of the Murfreesboro office in 2011. Crismon’s past work includes work with the Office of General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Health and clerking for the Honorable Inez Smith Reid, District of Columbia Court of Appeals. He has been an active member of the Murfreesboro Noon Lion’s Club and serves as past chair of the Rutherford-Cannon County Bar Association Public Service Committee and serves on the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee. He is a former member of the Leadership Middle Tennessee, Class of 2013. He received the Nashville Business Journal's 2014 Rutherford County Impact Award. His personal interests include golf, fishing and reading John Grisham novels. He serves as pastor of a church in Murfreesboro.

Kerry Dietz
Nashville Housing Attorney

Kerry Dietz joined Legal Aid Society in January, 2017 and practiced in the areas of mortgage foreclosure, housing, and consumer law in our Gallatin Office . July 2018, Kerry moved to the Nashville Office to practice housing law. Kerry graduated from the Belmont University College of Law where she was Editor in Chief of Law Review. During law school, she spent time working with Congressman Jim Cooper, and interned with Magistrate Judge John Bryant in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Kerry also worked with Ozment Law and The Immigrant Legal Resource Center on an update to their guide on how to protect the constitutional rights of immigrants during removal proceedings.

Shelby Dodson
Gallatin Attorney

Shelby Dodson joined Legal Aid Society in August 2018 as an attorney in the Gallatin office.

Christian Eason
Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Attorney, Columbia

Christian Eason is a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2015 graduate of the University of Tennessee College Law. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Christian spent two years working for Young Williams as a family law attorney.

Savannah Flowers
Nashville Attorney, Family Law

Savannah joined Legal Aid Society in September 2018. Savannah received her JD from University of Tennessee College of Law in May 2018. In law school, she participated in UT Law’s Advocacy Clinic and Domestic Violence Clinic. She had internships at the Knox County Public Defenders program and the Domestic Violence Unit of the District Attorney for Tennessee’s 20th Judicial District. Savannah has a Bachelor of Social Work from Belmont University. Throughout college and prior to law school, Savannah has worked at the Sexual Assault Center as a crisis line operator, the YWCA of Knoxville as a victim advocate, the YWCA of Nashville as a crisis counselor, and Youth Villages as a Family Intervention Specialist.

Kevin Fowler
Clarksville Managing Attorney

Kevin Fowler is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 1990 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Before joining the Legal Aid Society in 1993, he worked in private practice and with Memphis Area Legal Services. At MTSU he received the Norman L. Parks Award in Political Science and at UNC he received the American Jurisprudence Award for Torts. In 2010 the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed him to its Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Pro Se Forms, on which he still serves. The Committee is making key recommendations to the Court on how self-represented litigants can use the judicial system more effectively.

Mary Gillum
Oak Ridge Attorney, Coordinator, Tennessee Taxpayer Project

Mary Michelle Gillum is the Director of the Legal Aid Society's Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, also known as the Tennessee Taxpayer Project. Ms. Gillum, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic and the Legal Aid Society, founded the Tennessee Taxpayer Project in 2000. Since 2000, the Tennessee Taxpayer Project has represented over 5,000 clients before the IRS and procured financial benefits totaling over $40,000,000. Ms. Gillum obtained a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee in 1994 where she majored in Accounting and Business Law. In 2000, she obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is admitted to practice in the United States Tax Court, United States Bankruptcy Court and United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. She litigates cases each year in the United States Tax Court and United States Bankruptcy Court. Ms. Gillum was lead counsel in Marlow v. Commissioner, a published case that outlined actions the government must take in verifying requirements of applicable law and administrative procedure have been met in a due process hearing, and in Vinatieri v. Commissioner, a published case affirming IRC 6334(a)(1 )(D) prohibits levy when a taxpayer is facing economic hardship, even if noncompliant in filing returns. Ms. Gillum also served as counsel on Lantz v. Commissioner, a case that went up to the Circuit Court of Appeals, ultimately changing the time period to request equitable innocent spouse relief from two to ten years. Ms. Gillum began working with the Legal Aid Society in 2000 with a full fellowship from Equal Justice Works (EJW). In September 2014, EJW named Ms. Gillum to the Equal Justice Works Alumna Hall of Fame. In 2004, she received the 8. Riney Green Award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, for outstanding efforts to promote collaboration among legal aid programs. She recently received the Tennessee Bar Association's 2018 Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award. Ms. Gillum is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association Faculty and provides continuing legal education seminars to attorneys throughout the state. The IRS regularly invites her to present training to examiners. She has also been invited to advise the Commissioner of the IRS on systemic issues related to low-income taxpayers. Ms. Gillum's current practices includes federal income tax controversies, bankruptcy and collection defense.

Dean Hinton
Gallatin Attorney

Dean Hinton joined the Gallatin office as a staff attorney in September, 2016. Dean graduated from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Dean was in private practice handling a vast array of legal issues for clients across Middle Tennessee in both local and federal courts. He has also served as a contract paralegal for the Unites States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee Financial Litigation Unit. Dean is a former investigative journalist, and of great significance, served in the United States Air Force.

Iska Hoole
Tullahoma Managing Attorney

Iska Hoole is a 1997 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. She did her undergraduate work at the University of the South in Sewanee, where she was a member of the Order of the Gown, the academic honors society. While in law school she was active in the Tennessee Association for Public Interest Law. She served as a summer intern with the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and as a volunteer tax preparer. She worked as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in the Tullahoma office from 1998 to 2003. She worked in private practice from 2006 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2013. She was a public school teacher in Winchester, Tennessee from 2008 to 2010. She is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil and Family Mediator.

Patricia Jones
Columbia Attorney, Mortgage Foreclosure Practice Lead

Patricia Jones is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2005 graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law. While at law school, she served as Executive Editor of the Race Ethnicity Ancestry Law Journal and regularly volunteered with a local juvenile detention center, where she helped young men study for their high school equivalency exams. She began working as a staff attorney with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc. in 2005, focusing on family and landlord tenant law. In 2007, she began to defend homeowners in foreclosure cases. While in Florida, she was active with the Ocala chapter of the D.R. Smith American Inn of Court and served on the executive board of the Marion County Homeless Council. She also ran a marathon on behalf of the American Heart Association, raising over $5,000 for the organization. In 2012, she left Florida and moved back home to east Tennessee. While in east Tennessee, she volunteered with Legal Aid of East Tennessee and acted as a guardian ad litem to children within the juvenile court system. She joined the Legal Aid Society in June 2014 as an attorney with the Columbia office. She is also a veteran of the United States Army, having enlisted in 1995. After serving in Germany and Texas, she was honorably discharged in 1999. In her spare time, she enjoys playing board games, reading, and traveling.

Allison Jones
Nashville Attorney

Allison Jones is a staff attorney in the Nashville office, practicing in the areas of health, public benefits, and special education. She also directs Legal Aid Society’s medical-legal partnership with Shade Tree Clinic, a comprehensive, free medical clinic staffed by Vanderbilt medical and nursing students. Allison is a legal services veteran, having worked as a consumer law paralegal at LAF in Chicago, and then as a housing law clerk and social work practicum student at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri throughout graduate school. She also served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith of the Supreme Court of Missouri, and for Senior Judge John T. Nixon of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Allison jointly received her law degree and Master of Social Work in 2013 from Washington University in St. Louis. Her undergraduate degree in History was earned at Brown University. She currently co-chairs the TALS Health and Benefits statewide task force.

David Kozlowski
Director of Advocacy
(931) 381-5533, x258
EMAIL

David Kozlowski is a 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He was a clinical instructor at the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic from 1975 to 1980, at which time he joined the Legal Aid Society. In 2001 he worked with the Tennessee Justice Center on several class action cases. In 2002 he became the Assistant General Counsel to the Legal Aid Society and is now the Director of Advocacy for the firm. He has been lead counsel on many significant state and federal court decisions in Tennessee involving prisoner and juvenile rights and is one of the leading appellate court advocates in Tennessee. He is the author of leading reference works on Tennessee unemployment security law and chapters on appeals from juvenile and general sessions courts in Tennessee Appellate Practice and Tennessee Law of Children. He is a frequent presenter at local, state and national training events. David received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award as the Public Service Attorney of the Year in 1998. In 2014 the Tennessee Supreme Court reappointed him to a third three year term on its Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, that term expiring on December 31, 2017. He was a hearing officer for the Board of Professional Responsibility from 2002 through 2008 and was reappointed to another three year term by the Supreme Court in 2016. He and his colleague Rae Anne Smith, an attorney in the Tullahoma office, were asked by the Supreme Court in 2013 to co-chair a sub-committee of the Court Improvement Committee that was tasked with considering revisions to Tennessee’s Rules of Juvenile Procedure – a project that resulted in the adoption in 2016 of the completely rewritten Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure in 2016.

Ameilia Luna
Murfreesboro Attorney, Family Law Practice Lead

Amelia Miller Luna is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 2003 graduate of the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She joined the Legal Aid Society upon graduation. While at law school, she worked with the Elder Law Clinic. She was also an editorial board member of the Tennessee Journal of Practice and Procedure and a member of the Moot Court Board, Phi Delta Phi and the Christian Legal Society. She was the District Seven Representative for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. In 2015, she was inducted into the TBA fellows division. In 2014, she received the President’s Distinguished Service award and the Star of the Fourth Quarter Award from TBA YLD for her work on service projects during that year. She is a 2010 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She received the Nashville Business Journal's 2014 Rutherford County Impact Award. She is a member of the Rutherford County Noon Lions Club, participates in the Rutherford County Domestic Violence Advisory Board, and participates with the TN-0 program in Rutherford County. She is also treasurer for her high school alumni association and an active member of her church. Her interests are spending time with her family and spending time outside.

Rachel Moses
Cookeville Attorney

Rachel Moses is a 1999 graduate of Centre College and a 2002 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. In law school she was the founder and coordinator of the Family Justice Project and the Pet Project (which assisted victims of domestic violence by establishing a network of veterinarians and others who could keep pets) and was coordinator of the VITA taxpayer assistance program. She was a student attorney at the UT Legal Clinic and clerked for two summers and one semester with the Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. She is Past President of the Putnam County Bar Association. She is President of the Upper Cumberland Trial Lawyers Association. She served as a District Representative for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division from 2004-2012, and coordinated the YLD’s local high school mock trial competition and the local Wills for Heroes pro bono project, which provides free wills to emergency first responders. In 2012, she was elected as Vice President of the TBA YLD and will serve as President in 2014-2016. She is a 2010 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She founded the Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association, which became an affiliate of the TBA’s YLD in 2010. She received the YLD’s Public Service Day Project of the Year Award in 2011 and 2012. In 2012 she received the State YLD President’s Award for “tireless dedication to the improvement of the legal profession and the TBA YLD.” She serves on the Pro Bono Advisory Committee of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. She is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association's Public Service Committee and is Chairperson of the YouTube Video Contest Subcommittee, which operates a civics-themed video contest for middle and high school students each year. She is a board member for the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center. She is past President of the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club and served as an Assistant Governor for Rotary International District 6780. She is the Chairperson for Inbound Rotary Youth Exchange Program for international students who study in Tennessee High Schools across East and Middle Tennessee. She is also the past President of the Cookeville Evening Lions Club and is the lead screener for the KidSight Program in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Children's Eye Clinic, in which she screens the eyes for children between the ages of 1-6 years old in Putnam County schools and daycares. She coaches youth basketball and has served on the Board of Directors for Girls Incorporated of Oak Ridge and the Putnam County Youth Basketball League. She is a 2011 graduate of the Leadership Putnam Program.

Janet Mynatt
Oak Ridge Managing Attorney

Janet Mynatt is a 1993 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School. While in Law School she served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and Politics. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 2001 as an AmeriCorps attorney working with victims of domestic violence. She previously worked with a private law firm representing Social Security disability claimants. She edits and updates the Legal Aid Society’s Sixth Circuit Social Security Manual. In 2005-2006 she was a National Consumer Law Center Fellow. She is a 2009 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She served as Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Disability Law Section during 2013-14. She is a Governing Council member of the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness. She is past President of the Anderson County Bar Association and is from Oak Ridge.

Meganne O'Neil
Tax Attorney

Meganne O’Neil is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Tennessee College of Law. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 2019. She is licensed to practice law in New Hampshire and the United States Tax Court.

Zac Oswald
Gallatin Managing Attorney, Housing Practice Lead

Zac Oswald is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a 2013 cum laude graduate of University of Miami School of Law. While at law school, he also earned a Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries and acted as the Student Director of Business Affairs for Cat 5 Music Publishing. While awaiting his bar exam results, he worked as a grill cook at Chipotle Mexican Restaurants and still cuts chicken faster than most Tennesseeans. He started at Legal Aid Society in 2014 as a University of Miami Legal Corps Fellow, working primarily in the Family Law Unit. He is Managing Attorney of the Gallatin Office, practicing Housing and Consumer Law, and is the Team Lead for the firm’s Housing Practice Group. He was the 2016 recipient of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Service’s New Advocate of the Year award.

Russ Overby
Nashville Attorney, Health, Income and Education Practice Lead

Russ Overby is the Lead Attorney of the Health, Income and Education Practice Group of Legal Aid Society. He is a graduate of Wheaton College and a 1974 graduate Vanderbilt Law School. He worked at the Legal Aid Society in Nashville from 1974 until 1993 and was lead counsel in several significant federal and state cases involving public benefits and the rights of children in state institutions. He was a Clinical Instructor at Vanderbilt from 1974 to 1977. In 1993 he became managing attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office. From 1997 to 2005 he worked as the Welfare Reform Lawyer at the Tennessee Justice Center. He rejoined the Legal Aid Society in 2006, where he handles health and public benefits cases. He has written extensively about public benefits issues and conducted training on the topic for national audiences. He received the State Advocate of the Year Award from the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare in 1998 and the Harry Chapin Advocacy Award from MANNA in 1997. In 2008 the Tennessee Bar Association awarded him its Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award. In 2011 the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services gave him its B. Riney Green Award for his commitment to improving collaboration among public interest advocates in the state. His interests include following the Chicago White Sox and swimming.

Michael Parker
Clarksville Attorney

Michael Parker recently moved to the Clarksville office. He joined the Oak Ridge office as a staff attorney in January 2017. He focuses on family law and housing issues. Michael is a graduate of the Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law. He earned his B.S. in History from Austin Peay State University. During law school, he worked as a research assistant, editing a textbook on TN family law, handled pro bono dependency and neglect cases through guardian ad litem appointments as a participant in his law school’s juvenile law clinic, and interned as a law clerk for a juvenile court judge.

Emma Sholl
Nashville Managing Attorney

Emma Sholl was named Nashville Managing Attorney in August 2018. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Colgate University and 2014 graduate of Tulane University Law School. While in law school, she had an externship with the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she worked on a special education class action lawsuit. She was also a Juvenile Justice fellow at Children at Risk in Houston, TX, a New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center intern, and an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps summer fellow at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. At Tulane, she was involved in the Disability and Health Law Society and served as a managing editor of the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property. Her comment, “Exhibit Facebook: The Discoverability and Admissibility of Social Media Evidence” was published in 2013. She joined Legal Aid Society upon graduation. She works on health and benefits and special education cases. She is the leader of Legal Aid Society’s Health and Elder Law Program (HELP) and the co-chair of the Harris Gilbert Family Fellowship. She is also a member of the Nashville Council on Aging’s Leadership Council.

Matt Silvey
Cookeville TSLA Attorney

Matt Silvey joined Legal Aid Society in January 2017 as a VOCA attorney in the Cookeville office. Matt changed position to be apart of the Tennessee Senior Legal Alliance launched in April. Matt is a 2016 graduate of the Nashville School of Law. He has a background in counseling/social work, having earned his M.S. in Social Work in 2008 from the University of Tennessee. He has worked with both the Davidson and Knox County Public Defenders’ offices in the past. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Matt operated a solo practice in Cookeville where he handled mostly court-appointed cases.

Michelle Sisco
Nashville Attorney

Michelle “Miki” Brady Sisco is a 2013 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law. Prior to law school, she received a joint master’s degree in Anthropology and Women’s & Gender Studies at Brandeis University, and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at Bates College. Miki primarily practiced family and employment law at the Justice Bridge Legal Center in Boston, MA before moving to back to her home state of Tennessee. Miki has committed her legal and anthropological career toward advocacy of women’s and LGBT rights and, in particular, empowering domestic violence survivors to reclaim their lives and safety. Miki enjoys yoga, animals (especially pugs), and travel.

Theresa-Vay Smith
Oak Ridge Attorney

Theresa-Vay Smith is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Tennessee College of Business MBA program. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 1997. While at law school, she was a member of a National Trial Team and Moot Court Board and active in the legal clinic. Upon graduation, she was a volunteer attorney with the Knoxville Legal Aid Society. She is past president of the board of directors of CASA of the Tennessee Heartland and past president of Community Mediation Services of Anderson County. She is chair of the Foster Care Review Board for Anderson County. She is a 2005 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program for outstanding young lawyers. She was appointed as a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Steering Committee for 2009 and 2010. She is on the editorial board of the Clearinghouse Review, a national publication of the Shriver Center on Law and Poverty. The ARC of Anderson County, a United Way agency, has honored Theresa-Vay Smith as one of its recipients of the Dove Award in 2011 and 2014. The annual award recognizes individuals in the community who have gone above and beyond in their assistance to children or adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities. In 2014 the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services gave her its B. Riney Green Award for her commitment to improving collaboration among public interest advocates in the state. She previously served on the board of directors of Chalet Ice Rinks, Inc., in Knoxville, where she also coached and taught competitive ice skating. She is from Loudon County.

Rae Anne Smith
Tullahoma Attorney

Rae Anne Smith is a 2008 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, where she received the Founder’s Award for being first in her class. She has a Bachelor in Social Work degree from Harding University and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. Before attending law school, she worked for ten years in the public child welfare system. She is a member of the Cooper’s Inn Honor Society and was a student member of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court. While in law school she interned with the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ General Counsel’s Office; clerked with the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General; and worked full-time in the Legal Aid Society’s Nashville office through the end of 2008 as a law clerk and grant writer. She joined the Legal Aid Society’s Columbia office in 2009 and transferred to the Tullahoma office in 2012. She is co-chair of the Legal Aid Society’s Gilbert Family Fellowship which focuses on cases involving children and young adults. She is past Chair and a current Executive Council member of the Juvenile and Children’s Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association. She is an appointed member and immediate past President of the Tennessee Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice and Child Sexual Abuse and past Chair of that organization’s Court Improvement Committee. She is also a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Court Improvement Program’s Law Committee, which focuses on laws and rules affecting children. She served as co-chair of the committee that revised the Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure. She is a member of the Coffee County Foster Care Review Board. In 2011 she received the Hope House Outstanding Attorney Award for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

Lucinda Smith
Volunteer Lawyers Program Director
(615) 780-7127
EMAIL

Lucinda Smith is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and a 1976 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. After clerking for the Davidson County Chancery Court and practicing with the State of Tennessee and in private practice, she served as Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Family Law Section from 1987 to 1990. From 1991 to 2003 she was with the firm of Dodson, Parker Dinkins & Behm. She was Nashville’s Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year in 1995. She returned to the Legal Aid Society to direct The Nashville Pro Bono Program, a joint venture of the Legal Aid Society and Nashville Bar Association. She has taught family law as an adjunct professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School. She is former Chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission and is active in the Nashville Bar Association, having served as First Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee and the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.

Tiffany Tant-Shafer
Tullahoma Attorney

Tiffany Tant-Shafer joined Legal Aid Society in February 2017. Her previously experiences include working with the Legal Services of Southern Missouri and the Legal Aid of Western Missouri. She also practiced law at the Law Office of Craig D. Ritchie, P.C. handling family and appellate cases. While practicing law, Tiffany was also an Adjunct Professor of Legal Studies with Missouri Western State University, where she taught courses to paralegal and criminal justice students. Most recently Tiffany had her own private practice in which she focused on family and juvenile cases.

David Tarpley
Nashville Attorney

David Tarpley is a 1971 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1971 and became managing attorney of the Consumer Section in 1974. He holds the Herman O. Loewenstein Chair, named for the donor of a generous endowment to support consumer advocacy in Nashville. He has practiced extensively in the field of consumer law and is a frequent presenter at local, state and regional training. He served for 26 years on the Board of Directors of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Middle Tennessee. He has been an affiliate faculty member of the Vanderbilt University Law School since 1986 and teaches a course on consumer credit protection. He is on the faculty of the Nashville School of Law, where he teaches a course in Consumer Protection. In 1997 he received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award for the Public Service Attorney of the Year. In 2003 the Nashville Business Journal identified him as one of the outstanding 100 lawyers in the Nashville bar. In 2013, the Nashville Business Journal named him one of three finalists for the 2013 Best of Bar in consumer law. David is an avid amateur musician and plays French horn with the Trevecca Symphony Orchestra and sings in the choir at Vine Street Christian Church.

Joshua Thomas
Columbia Managing Attorney

Joshua Thomas is a graduate of Yale University and a 2011 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He formerly worked as a felony prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney in Gulfport, Mississippi, and as a legal fellow in the Office of General Counsel at The University of Southern Mississippi in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While in law school, he served as an Articles Editor for the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, interned at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and worked as a summer law clerk with the law firms of Barrett Johnston in Nashville and Butler Snow in the greater Jackson, Mississippi area. Prior to law school, he worked in management for a Canadian-based nonprofit in Mississippi and Louisiana. His personal interests include running and biking. He joined Legal Aid Society in March 2013 and became Managing Attorney of the Columbia office in March 2017.

Amber Vargas
Cookeville Attorney

Amber Vargas joined Legal Aid Society in September 2018 as an attorney in the Cookeville office.

Marla Williams
Cookeville Managing Attorney

Marla K. Williams is the Managing Attorney for the Cookeville office of Legal Aid Society and is also the Lead Attorney for the Consumer Practice. She is a l988 graduate of the University of Louisville School of Law. She joined Legal Aid Society in 1988. She served as a District representative on the Board of the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyer Division from 1995 to 2000. She coordinated the YLD’s high school mock trial competitions in her district. She has served on the advisory boards of the Tennessee Vocational Training Center and Consumer Credit Counseling. She serves on the boards of Putnam County Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. She is a graduate of Leadership Putnam and has been a member of its Board of Trustees since that time. Marla has taught law and paralegal studies at Volunteer State Community College. From 1997 to 2003 she served as a member of the Hearing Committee of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. She is from Clay County.

Amy Allen
Cookeville Receptionist / Intake Specialist

Amy Allen, intake specialist in our Cookeville office, joined Legal Aid in 2004. She brings more than twenty years of experience as a legal assistant to our firm. Originally from Jackson, Tennessee, Amy has lived in Cookeville since 1996 when her husband was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. Her hobbies include reading, boating, and spending time with her family. She is a graduate of Jackson Christian High School, and has attended Tennessee Technological University and Jackson State Community College.

Teri Bess
Nashville Paralegal

Teri Bess began working at Legal Aid Society as a paralegal in the Health Benefits unit after she graduated from Kaplan College’s ABA Accredited Paralegal program in 2010. Prior to her work with Legal Aid Society, she worked for 17 years as an office/service manager at a heating and cooling company in Michigan. Teri moved to Nashville in 2008.

Lupe Betanzos
Clarksville Bilingual Domestic Violence Advocate

Guadalupe “Lupe” Betanzos joined the Clarksville office in September, 2017 as a bilingual victim advocate, having served in the same role in the Nashville office since January 2015. Previously, she worked as a correctional officer in the Alaska Department of Corrections and the Robertson County Detention Facility, where she translated for non-English speaking detainees.

Sue Bolling
Nashville Secretary / Intake Worker

Sue Bolling joined Legal Aid Society in 1986 and is the secretary/intake worker for the Consumer section in our Nashville office. Sue also provides support for forms on our Legal Files case management system.

Tracey Brown
Clarksville Office Manager

Tracey Brown, Office Manager of the Clarksville office, has worked in the legal field for over 30 years. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2002. Tracey has been married since 1998 and has 5 children. She enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her family.

Kathy Burns
Oak Ridge Office Manager

Kathy Burns joined Rural Legal Services (predecessor to Legal Aid Society) in 1993 as an Administrative Assistant and became Office Manager in 2003.

Karen Bush
Murfreesboro Receptionist / Intake Worker

Karen Bush has been with Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro Office since 1993 and is currently a legal assistant/secretary. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a minor in marketing from Middle Tennessee State University. She assists the office with performing intakes, preparing the distribution of community education materials, administering accounts payable for our office, drafting client communications and generally helping the attorneys and other office team members as needed. Karen is married and has two beautiful children. Karen has an affinity for pets as her family boasts 3 cats and 2 dogs.

Janice Campbell
Oak Ridge Secretary

Janice Campbell, a native of Anderson County, joined Legal Aid Society in 2012 as a secretary. She previously worked for American Red Cross, Director of Service to the Armed Forces with local military units, families and veterans. Janice also serve on the board of the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council. She currently volunteers with the Employee Support of the Guard and Reserves. Janice has two sons and seven grandchildren. She enjoys snow skiing and mountain biking.

Brittany Curry
Nashville Office Manager / Hiring Manager

Brittany joined the Nashville office in December 2017 as Office Manager./ Secretarial Assistant. Brittany’s background ranges from management to marketing to client liaison in several different settings. She most recently worked as an Account Manager for a staffing firm. Brittany brings a great upbeat personality and strong problem solving skills. She is currently enrolled at the University of Alabama on-line and is pursuing a Non-Profit Essential Certificate at the Center for Non-Profit Management. Additionally, she is a personal trainer for over 10 years.

Tina DeLacy
Clarksville Receptionist

Tina E. DeLacy has been employed at Legal Aid Society since late 2005. In 2003, she completed the paralegal program at Draughon’s and received an Associate’s Degree. Tina began working in the legal field in 1995, and has worked at various law firms as a legal word processor, legal secretary, paralegal, and receptionist. Legal Aid has been her favorite place to work because she truly enjoy helping people. When Tina is not working at Legal Aid Society greeting and assisting clients, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

Heather Duggan
Cookeville Paralegal

Heather Duggan joined Legal Aid Society in April 2017 as a Paralegal in the Cookeville office working primarily with the Mortgage Foreclosure Team. Heather earned an Associates Degree in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies from Palm Beach State College, located in Lake Worth, FL. She has approximately 10 years experience as a paralegal assisting attorneys working in many areas of law. Heather moved to Tennessee from Florida in 2008 and resides with her family in White County.

Pete Frierson
Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Community Outreach Coordinator / Paralegal, Columbia

Pete Frierson is a paralegal in the Columbia office, having joined Legal Aid Society in 1982. He is a cum laude graduate of Columbia State Community College with an AA in marketing. Pete was awarded the Outstanding Civil Rights Advocate Award by the Columbia State Community College and the Make a Difference Award by the South Central Abuse Coalition. He is a member of Cambridge “Who’s Who”. Pete has served the Boys and Girls Club of America as past president of the Maury County chapter and past president for the State of Tennessee. Pete is a lifetime member of the Disabled Veterans, Fleet Reserve Association, Camping World and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 2015, he was a recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s Veterans Award. Pete is retired from the US Navy and enjoys traveling, camping, riding motorcycles and helping people.

Jeremy Gartland
Nashville Housing/Reentry Paralegal

Jeremy is a recent graduate of Cornell University, from which he holds two Bachelors of Arts: in Government and (I know we all love this) Spanish. He also studied for a time at the University of Havana in Cuba. Jeremy has a strong background in public policy, completing his undergraduate thesis on public school policy in his native Wisconsin, and later working as a research assistant to investigate a large-scale plan to combat poverty in St. Petersburg, Florida. This work has taken him into marginalized communities to speak directly with effected persons. Jeremy also has corresponding experience in community development, working through his home church in Wisconsin to organize cooperation among local schools, police, faith-based groups, and social justice organizations. In addition to his stellar intellectual qualifications, Jeremy comes to us with prodigious compassion and enthusiasm for supporting those in need of advocacy

Jessica Jernigan
Tullahoma Paralegal

Jessica Jernigan, an advocate in our Tullahoma office, joined Legal Aid Society in 2002. She previously has worked as a licensed social service worker with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Active in the community, Jessica has volunteered with Your Community Connection (YCC) as a trained rape crisis and domestic violence worker and also has served on numerous non-profit boards including Families in Crisis, the Grundy County Health Council, and the Regional Health Council. Her interests include theatre, anything outdoors and gardening. Jessica holds a bachelor’s of science in social work from Weber State University.

Debora Lambert
Columbia Office Manager

Debora Lambert joined the Columbia office of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in September 2018. Debora is a graduate of Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice/Sociology and later received her Master of Business Administration from American University. She speaks fluent French, Haitian Creole, and Cape Verdean Creole. Lambert is also a batterer’s intervention and anger management facilitator at Time for Change in Columbia. She teaches court-mandated curriculum to individuals as well as others about how to have a healthy relationship.
Debora previously worked for the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center, an affiliate of the Office for Family Safety in Nashville as a domestic violence family advocate assisting survivors with community resources, orders of protection as well as working with police departments, the commissioners, district attorneys, and judges.
Debora had worked for 14 years with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Nine of those years, she was the Area Director. In this managerial position, she facilitated meetings with governors and senators on legislation, community affairs and issues pertaining to the disability community, social justice, and human rights.
When not at work, Debora enjoys church and family time with her husband and her 15-year-old son. (The older two boys and two girls are away in college) They also have 3 American Staffordshire Terriers that keep them busy.
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Carol Lambert
Cookeville Secretary / Office Manager

Carol Lambert joined the Cookeville office in November 2017 as Secretary/Office Manager. Carol is an experienced legal secretary, having worked several years with a Chattanooga law firm and with two firms in the Upper Cumberland area. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Volunteer State Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Assistance Studies from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Maudie LeBlanc
Nashville Receptionist

Maudie LeBlanc joined Legal Aid Society in 1989 as the main receptionist for the Nashville office.

Marletta Lilly
Clarksville Legal Assistant

Marletta Lilly has been with Legal Aid Society for 14 years. She graduated from Miller-Motte College with an Associate’s Degree as a Paralegal in 1995. In 2001 she became a Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals. She has been a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals since 2001 and the Smoky Mountain Paralegal Association since 2005. She has served as Clarksville’s Office Work Place Coordinator for United Way for the past 7 years. Her free time is devoted to her family and church.

Lorna McCandless-Moss
Nashville Paralegal

Lorna McCandless-Moss re-joined Legal Aid Society in Nashville in November 2016 as paralegal with the Family Law Unit. Lorna previously worked in the LAS Columbia Office from 2014-2016 before moving to the Nashville area. Lorna has a Bachelor’s Degree from UT Chattanooga and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Tennessee State University. She worked for the Legal Aid Bureau in Riverdale, Maryland, before coming to work for LASMTC in 2014. Previously, Lorna worked as an education consultant developing curriculum and conducting trainings and presentations for Girls, Inc. of Chattanooga. She enjoys the arts in all its forms including dance, theatre and music.

Melba McNairy
Nashville Intake Specialist

Melba McNairy is a 1963 high school graduate, from Maury County, but has lived in Davidson County for 50 years. She grew up on a farm and has driven a tractor. Prior to working at Legal Aid Society, Melba worked at the Meharry Community Mental Health Center, the State of Tennessee Department of Personnel, Division of Research, and in a doctor’s private practice office. She attended Tennessee State University for a brief period of time. She started working at Legal Aid Society in 1978 as a Legal Secretary and worked full time until 2010 when she transitioned to a part-time schedule. Melba currently works as an eligibility screener and intake specialist for the Nashville Health and Benefits Section interviewing clients by telephone.

Tabitha Molnar
Nashville Community Outreach Advocate / Paralegal

Tabitha Molnar moved to the Nashville Area in 2016 and began working at Legal Aid Society in May of the same year as a Community Outreach Advocate/ Paralegal for the Mortgage and Foreclosure team. She mainly works in the Nashville office but also works on cases from the Gallatin, Clarksville and Columbia offices. She graduated from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky in 2014 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Tabitha developed a passion for working with the under-served and lower income population when she volunteered for the Center for Women and Families, a domestic violence shelter in Louisville. After college, she spent the summer working as a Boy’s Side counselor at a seven week sleepaway athletic camp in New York. When she returned, Tabitha began working at a personal injury firm in Louisville, Adams Legal Group. She enjoys kayaking, volleyball and cheering on the Kentucky Wildcats in basketball.

Kendahl Moore
Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Community Outreach Coordinator / Paralegal - Oak Ridge & Cookeville

Kendahl Moore joined Legal Aid Society in June 2018 as an Outreach Coordinator and Paralegal for the Oak Ridge and Cookeville service areas as part of the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance (TSLA) team. Kendahl is a magna cum laude graduate of Berea College. She has a passion for helping underserved populations and enjoys volunteering in her spare time. In addition, Kendahl also has worked as a legal assistant in private general practice and criminal defense law firms. Most recently, Kendahl was the Pantry Manager for Pellissippi State Community College’s 5-campus food pantry, as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Kendahl interests include traveling, cooking, and anything outdoors.

Mary Novak
Nashville Bilingual Intake Specialist

Mary Novak previously worked for Bellsouth/ AT&T for 30 years until she retired July 3, 2000. She took a buy-out instead of a pension and invested it in a diversified fund and lost a majority of it in the 911 attack. She tried to stay at home but found that that was not for her. She is a people person and loves to help the down trodden so she volunteered at Teen Challenge and did jail ministry. She went to work at Child Support for about 5 1/2/ years until they lost their contract with the state of Tennessee. Novak has been a Bilingual Intake Specialist at Legal Aid Society since September 30, 2014.

Linda Obregon
Nashville Victim Advocate

Linda Obregon joined Legal Aid Society in May 2018 as a Victim Advocate in the Nashville office.

Jennifer Pegram
Murfresboro Legal Assistant

Jennifer Pegram has worked as a Legal Assistant in the Murfreesboro office since 1990. She has found that no other job provides the satisfaction that she receives from working with Legal Aid Society clients. After all these years, she still finds her work rewarding and interesting. When she is not at work, she likes to paint, make candy, and spend loads of time with her grandbabies.

Peggy Pellett
Nashville VLP Administrative Assistant

Peggy Pellett joined Legal Aid Society in July, 2017 as an Administrative Assistant with the Volunteer Lawyers Program.

Angela Ridings
Tullahoma Office Manager

Angela Ridings is a graduate of Alcoa High School. Angela began working in the Tullahoma office as a temporary receptionist in 2004; became a full time employee in 2005; and became the office manager in 2011. Prior to coming to work for Legal Aid Society, she worked 7 years in a private law office in North Carolina. During Angela’s husband military service they were stationed in Germany where Angela volunteered at the Army Community Service (ACS) on the military base. She helped military families prepare for a move overseas and connected them with resources when they arrived. This is where Angela’s love of helping people began.

Jorge Salles Diaz
VLP Project Coordinator

Jorge Salles Diaz joined Legal Aid Society August 2018. He is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University with a degree in History and Economics and a minor in Philosophy. He transferred to Vanderbilt as a junior in 2016 from the University of Central Florida and comes to us with extraordinary academic references from professors in Nashville and legal references from a law firm in Florida. At Vanderbilt he was the recipient of 2 competitive fellowships and editor of the Vanderbilt Historical Review. He worked with a Miami law firm where he digitized and organized documents for a suit pending litigation – starting with boxes of files! Jorge has extensive experience coordinating volunteers from his time at UCF, working with Volunteer UCF to develop partnerships, organize events and recruit and manage 20 – 30 volunteers. He is a native Spanish speaker which has already proven an asset.

Krista Scruggs
Gallatin Secretary / Intake Worker

Krista Scruggs is a Gallatin native and attended Gallatin High School. In 2006 she decided to better herself so she could provide a better life for her 3 children. She graduated from the Sumner County Adult Education program in 2006 which she now sits on the Board. She graduated from Volunteer State Community College in 2008 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree specializing in Paralegal Studies. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. She came to Legal Aid Society in 2007. She is also over the Contract Attorney Program (CAP) in the Gallatin Office and clinics for the Gallatin office. Krista provides case management assistance to the two Family Law and Health and Benefits lawyers. Krista performs paralegal duties to support the activities of the staff attorneys, including drafting and typing legal documents, conducting intake, researching, compiling and drafting discovery, making telephone calls, transcribing dictation, data processing, case file maintenance, meeting with clients, and record keeping. Krista assists in educating and advocating for low-income people. Krista has been with Legal Aid Society since 2007.

Sandy Seiber
Oak Ridge Receptionist

Sandy Seiber joined the Oak Ridge office of Legal Aid Society in June, 2017.

Adria Sharp
Tullahoma Paralegal

Adria Sharp joined Legal Aid Society in May 2017 as a Paralegal in the Tullahoma office. She worked for 5 years for a private practice attorney in Shelbyville. She grew up in Oklahoma and currently lives in Shelbyville with her husband.

Roneisha Simpson

Roneisha Simpson joined Legal Aid Society in August 2018 as a Victim Advocate in the Nashville office.

Eamon Smith
Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Community Outreach Coordinator / Paralegal
EMAIL

Eamon Smith joined Legal Aid Society in January 2019 as Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Community Outreach Coordinator / Paralegal .

Mary Grace Stoneking
Nashville SNAP Community Outreach Advocate

Mary Grace Stoneking joined Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands in August 2018 as its new SNAP Community Outreach Advocate. Before her new position at Legal Aid, she served with FoodCorps for two years, building garden and nutrition programs in low-income elementary schools in Arkansas. She is a 2016 graduate from Rhodes College in Memphis, where she worked with GrowMemphis building gardens in blighted communities of Memphis, and was also a member of the Food Advisory Council of Shelby County.

Pat Sullivan
Tullahoma Receptionist

Pat Sullivan is a 1970 graduate of Tullahoma High School. She was a stay at home Mom for several years, but as her children grew Pat decided to enter the work force. Pat worked for Centerstone Mental Health Center in Tullahoma from 1996 to 2010. She was promoted to office manager in 1997 and continued in that role until her retirement in 2010. After 7 months of retirement Pat decided to return to work and accepted a position with Legal Aid Society in April, 2011. Pat enjoys greeting the clients, and helping them through the intake process. When Pat isn’t at work she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren.

Sonja Summers
Gallatin Secretary / Legal Assistant

Sonja Summers is a born and raised Middle Tennessean. She worked for Buffaloe and Associates from January 1994 to April 2015 as a paralegal. While working at Buffaloe and Associates, she had opportunities to work with attorneys and staff within Legal Aid Society. At Buffaloe, Sonja felt the need to work with defending and aiding consumers rather than representing the creditors. She came to Legal Aid in April of 2015 with over 20 years of legal experience. Since working for Legal Aid Society, she has been involved in community outreach and enjoys the opportunity of helping people in the Gallatin service area. Sonja provides legal assistance to the Gallatin Staff attorneys, the Housing/Consumer practice groups, meets with clients, conducts intakes, assists in office management, completes dictations and filings. Sonja has two daughters, Meagan and Sara, and one grandchild.

Tabitha Tackett
Clarksville Victim Advocate

Tabitha Tackett is a graduate of Austin Peay State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Ms. Tackett joined Legal Aid Society in 2011 as a Victim Advocate working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Before coming to Legal Aid Society, she was a deputy clerk with the Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. She served as a board member of Safehaven, a domestic violence women’s shelter in Cheatham County from 2014 to 2016. In her free time she enjoys antiquing, photography, and volunteering.

Paula Trujillo
Oak Ridge Bilingual Outreach Worker

Paula Murphy Trujillo is an Outreach Community Paralegal of the Tennessee Taxpayer Project. She has a bachelor degree in Political Science and a Masters in J.D. from La Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Peru. She is a licensed attorney in Peru. In 1998, she began with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands as a volunteer helping Spanish speaking clients while attending the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is a member of The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Latino Taskforce, board member of Community Economic Development Network of East Tennessee (CEDNET) and former board member of Centro Hispano of East Tennessee.

Dorie Williams
Murfreesboro Legal Assistant

Dorie M. Williams joined Legal Aid Society in April 2017 as a Legal Assistant. During the previous two years, Dorie worked as a legal assistant for two private law firms. Prior to working in private practice, Dorie served as a volunteer for the Murfreesboro office of Legal Aid Society for approximately 11 months from November 2014 through September 2015 assisting with intake, answering the phones and typing.